Space

September 5, 2012

NASA selects science teams for astrobiology institute

NASA has awarded five-year grants totaling almost $40 million to five research teams to study the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.

The newly selected teams are from the University of Washington; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and University of Southern California. Average funding to the teams is almost $8 million each. The interdisciplinary teams will become members of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, headquartered at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

“These research teams join the NASA Astrobiology Institute at an exciting time for NASA’s exploration programs,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “With the Curiosity rover preparing to investigate the potential habitability of Mars and the Kepler mission discovering planets outside our solar system, these research teams will help provide the critical interdisciplinary expertise needed to interpret data from these missions and plan future astrobiology-focused missions.”

The University of Washington’s “Virtual Planetary Laboratory,” led by Victoria Meadows, will integrate computer modeling with laboratory and field-work across a range of disciplines to extend knowledge of planetary habitability and astronomical biosignatures in support of NASA missions to study extrasolar planets.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology team, led by Roger Summons, will focus on how signs of life are preserved in ancient rocks on Earth, with a focus on the origin and evolution of complex life, and how this knowledge can be applied to studies of Mars using the Curiosity rover.

The University of Wisconsin team, led by Clark Johnson, will study how to detect life in modern and ancient environments on Earth and other planetary bodies.

The University of Illinois team, led by Nigel Goldenfeld, seeks to define a “universal biology,” or fundamental principles underlying the origin and evolution of life anywhere, through an interdisciplinary study of how life began and evolved on Earth.

The University of Southern California team, led by Jan Amend, will study life in the subsurface, a potentially habitable environment on other worlds. They will use field, laboratory, and modeling approaches to detect and characterize Earth’s subsurface microbial life.

“The intellectual scope of astrobiology is breathtaking, from understanding how our planet went from lifeless to living, to understanding how life has adapted to Earth’s harshest environments, to exploring other worlds with the most advanced technologies to search for signs of life,” NAI Director Carl Pilcher said. “The new teams cover that breadth of astrobiology, and by coming together in the NAI, they will make the connections between disciplines and organizations that stimulate fundamental scientific advances.”

These five new teams join 10 other teams led by the University of Hawaii; Arizona State University, Tempe; The Carnegie Institution of Washington; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y.; Pennsylvania State University; Georgia Institute of Technology; and teams at Ames; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; and two teams at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines November 26, 2014

News: When Hagel leaves, new SecDef faces big questions about the military’s futureĀ - President Obama’s new pick to run the Pentagon will face a dizzying set of challenges affecting the Defense Department’s mission, budget and culture. Who will be the next Secretary of Defense?- Following the Nov. 24 surprise announcement from the White House, the...
 
 

News Briefs November 26, 2014

Navy to decommission two more ships in Puget Sound The Navy recently decommissioned the guided missile frigate USS Ingraham at Everett, Wash. It will be towed to Bremerton and scrapped. The Daily Herald reports the Navy also plans to decommission another ship at the Everett homeport and also one stationed in Bremerton. Naval Station Everett...
 
 

NASA airborne campaigns tackle climate questions from Africa to Arctic

NASA photograph The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into how different aspects of the interconnected Earth system influence climate change. NASA photograph The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

16T Pitch Boom reactivated to support wind tunnel tests

Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend The Pitch Boom at the AEDC 16-foot transonic wind tunnel (16T) was recently reactivated. This model support system is used in conjunction with a roll mechanism to provide a combined pitch...
 
 

Northrop Grumman supports U.S. Air Force Minuteman missile test launch

Northrop Grumman recently supported the successful flight testing of the U.S. Air Force’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system. The operational flight test was conducted as part of the Air Force Global Strike Command’s Force Development Evaluation Program. This program demonstrates and supports assessment of the accuracy, availability and reliability of the...
 
 
army-detector

Scientists turn handheld JCAD into a dual-use chemical, explosives detector

Scientists at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., proved it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks by adding the ability to detect explosive materials to the Joint Chemical Age...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>